Westbrook Defends His Team, Yet Still Criticized

Following a Game 4 loss, Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams took the podium for the regularly scheduled postgame interview. As expected, the atmosphere was solemn after a heartbreaking loss that may have decided the Thunder’s fate in this first round series against the Houston Rockets.

Berry Tramel directed the opening question to Steven Adams, asking why the team loses steam when Westbrook goes to the bench:

Westbrook clearly took offense to Tramel’s wording of the question and although it was a legitimate question for a reporter to ask following a loss, Westbrook’s point was understood and frankly, appreciated.

The criticism over the course of his 9-year career has been brutal and often times unfair. His demeanor doesn’t reflect this “nice” trend the NBA has adopted and it certainly doesn’t reflect one of a “true Oklahoman.” With that being said, his personality rubs many the wrong way.

One of the main topics of criticism for Westbrook has been the narrative that he’s a selfish man on and off the court, which time and time again have proven to be bogus. He doesn’t talk much. No one truly knows when he’s happy or mad and he’s not transparent in the slightest. That’s why many people’s opinion of him are unchanged.

Shying away from playing the victim in this situation as a journalist or disgruntled fan, I’m satisfied with his response. In a season where everything has been about Westbrook — Westbrook’s team, Westbrook’s records, Westbrook having no help, it was refreshing watching him make everything about the team instead of separating the two. This proves once again that he’s not the selfish guy everyone portrays him as.

The first sign of him being all about Oklahoma City and the team was this summer when he decided to sign a contract extension with the Thunder after Kevin Durant decided to take his talents to Oakland. The second instance was translated through his game. Although he averaged 31.6 points during this year’s regular season, he also averaged 10.4 assists for the second season in a row with significantly less talent than the year before. That’s a glaring stat that supports that he’s not the selfish guy the NBA and it’s fans have made him out to be. This was the third instance supporting that.

It’s amazing to see the obvious double-standard that still lies between Westbrook and Durant in relation to Oklahoma City and the two player’s actions. Last season, Kevin Durant did the exact same thing after a reporter asked a question regarding Mark Cuban’s comments on Westbrook’s superstar status:

The questions were different but the response held the same significance. Just like Durant, Westbrook was exercising his right as the undisputed leader of the Thunder by defending his teammates just like Berry Tramel was exercising his right as a journalist by asking a legitimate question. When Durant jumped in and interrupted a question directed towards Westbrook, he was praised for it. Westbrook does the same thing and gets slaughtered by many media members and fans which is unfair. It proves that everything controversial that Westbrook says will be over-analyzed and blown out of proportion.

Westbrook continues to prove his loyalty to Oklahoma City, and most importantly his teammates time-and-time again. Yet his every action is misunderstood and often formed into something it shouldn’t be. If this unfair criticism continues, Russell will grow tired (if he already isn’t) and move on, leaving the Thunder high and dry as well.

About the author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.


  1. Two thumbs up! Great comparison in similar situations of Westbrook and Durant. OKC fans are tremendously supportive, but equally as critical if they don’t get what they want. Tramel has the right to ask the question. Westbrook has the right as leader of the team, to preserve the cohesiveness of the team and NOT to respond to questions that can cause desention among he and his teammates. Very unselfish and simply team moral preservation.

  2. This is so on point! This double standard is crazy. Great job Russell… Great article A. Suave Francisco!

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